Flaneurs: Nameless in Paris
By Debbie, age 16, New Zealand
As I stride to the city of lights, I feel something holding me back. There is an edge to my walk, a chipped nail and the feeling you get when you encounter the beginnings of the unravelling of your favourite sweater. The country has always been the center of the clockwork of my heart, but the mystery of the city drove me to dig to its bubbling core. The first building I see is one I will never forget. The sleek glass honeycomb filled with busy coffee guzzling businessmen, all serious and slightly troubled behind the mist of their glasses.
Outside, there are three hooded people, excited with cans of paint and red in their eyes daring me to disapprove of their madness. I think to myself, the three musketeers. The three musketeers who will probably stab you if you come too close, the ones so thirsty to destroy what was once theirs but robbed from them. This was the only way they knew how to steal what was precious to others, to steal from the rich. Or so they believed. But buildings are replaceable, unlike the freedom and love before this era consumed by greed. A distant relative was consumed by this greed, bled dry by the city glinting like a handsome vampire but was only dead inside. I will never forget their trembling hurriedness, the screech of police cars. They warned me to stay away from the city; it will only bring you madness and grief.
How can a land so beautiful have ever caused so much pain? Look, to the left are some ice princesses, mermaids of childhood longing magnified. Knives in their pockets. Hoodlums from the outskirts of the city, ones I knew how to tame after years of living in a cottage alone and the myriad of beasts surrounding me. There were doe eyed schoolboys and I wonder how different this shard of the world would have seemed through anyone else's eyes. The ones who were tucked into their beds, the ones who did not have to travel for three days on foot to reach the closest village. My raggedy plaid flannel jacket, rough denim trousers, and hair I had never cut trailing down my shoulders. Black with a violently purple sheen. I didn't look like anyone I'd seen. My first twenty minutes walking the Parisian streets and I still did not belong anywhere.